On August 30, 1972, twenty-six members (25 men and one woman) of the Brown Berets began a twenty-four day occupation of Santa Catalina Island. A contingent of Brown Berets arrived in small groups aboard a tourist boat and a small plane.
The Brown Berets stated that the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo does not specifically mention any of the nine Channel Islands off the coast of California and thus argued that México never ceded any of the Channel Islands to the United States at the end of the U.S. War on México in 1848.
Many Chicanas/os-Mexicanas/os claimed that the United States illegally seized and occupied Mexican/Indigenous land. Some legal experts were prepared to argue that México could reclaim those lands back in international court.
The occupation ended on September 23, 1972 when the Avalon City Council threatened to enforce a camping ordinance and thus have the Brown Berets forcefully removed and arrested.
Through the “invasion” of Catalina Island, the Brown Berets brought attention to the problems confronting the Chicana/o-Mexicana/o community as a result of its colonized status within the United States.
The above photo shows members of the Brown Berets leaving Catalina Island while being escorted by the L.A. County Sheriffs at the end of the Catalina Island occupation.